'R-word' surfaces yet again

There goes that pesky “R-word” being bandied about as politicians debate the presidency of Barack Obama.

The latest uttering of it came from former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who used to be a Republican but now is running for his old office — as a Democrat.

Why did he leave the Grand Old Party?

Crist says it is because too many Republicans just can’t stomach the idea of an African-American serving as president of the United States. He calls those critics racist.


Is it true? Is Crist correct to assert that GOP criticism of Obama is based mostly — if not solely — on the fact that his father was a black African and his mother was a white Kansan?

Crist leveled a pretty heavy barrage against his former party in a TV interview. “They’re perceived now as being anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-education, anti-environment,” he said of Republicans.

Crist told interviewer Jorge Ramos he couldn’t tolerate that kind of view. So he switched parties.

Republicans, not surprisingly, say Crist left the party to become an independent initially because he couldn’t beat GOP Sen. Marco Rubio in the 2010 election. Again, I cannot know someone’s motives.

Crist, though, is speaking aloud about a chronic, nagging problem that is dogging the Republican Party. Are Obama critics fueled by racism? At the very least, is the president’s racial background factoring at some level into the intensity of the criticism being leveled at him?

I haven’t a clue. The issue, though, is worth a thorough national discussion.

Bring it on.